If I hear one more person say that nobody really needs four-wheel drive because so few people really take their vehicles off road, my head will explode. I never hear some mouthy car guy talking about how rarely people use airbags or ABS or stability control systems and then suggest because of their limited use you shouldn't be paying for them. We all seem to understand that those "limited use" options have a safety benefit, so they're good to have . . . just in case. Well, why shouldn't a vehicle's four-wheel drive system be viewed in the same way?
You only have to find yourself in some kind of nasty situation once in the life of your vehicle to justify whatever the additional cost was when purchased. Maybe you're at a friend's and the rain undercuts the road near a ditch and you have to navigate some ugly ruts or debris in order to get back home or out to the highway. Maybe the paved road has flooded. Maybe the new construction site near your house made a mess of the county road. And what if someone was sick or injured during or after a bad winter or spring storm? That single click or lever-pull into low range could give you more ability than just about any standard sedan on the market.
Naturally, we're not suggest a four-wheel drive system can repeal any of the laws of physics. It still has to deal with mass and momentum just like any other vehicle, but it will have something extra, even compared to a good all-wheel drive system. Again, in that one event where a low range keeps you from getting trapped or stuck, you've justified the added cost of the 4x4 system (depending on the model, typically between $1500 and $3000). That one event in the life of your vehicle allowed you to do something you otherwise wouldn't be able to, possibly keeping you from harm. And unlike an airbag, you can use it more than once. You can even use it for fun.
Why not look at a four-wheel drive system as a safety device? At its core, it's just another of those "just in case" features that every manufacturer wants you to purchase, except this is easily accessible and can be used whenever you want to play. Try that with your airbags or ABS or ESC system. When you consider all the safety gear your never get to play with buried deep inside your vehicle, having one you can use to get to a favorite camping spot, even if the vehicle before you dug out a hole or rutted the only trail to the top of the mountain, seems like a win-win. Some extra cost for some extra piece and I get some more pulling power? I'm okay with that.